Space Raiders (1983)

Ten-year-old boy Peter (a solid and likable performance by David Mendenhall) stows away on a spaceship that’s hijacked by a motley band of intergalactic pirates led by hard-nosed ex-soldier Col. C.W. “Hawk” Hawkins (neatly essayed with gruff’n’growly aplomb by Vince Edwards). Hawk promises to return Peter to his home planet. However, things are complicated by both Hawk’s arch nemesis Zeriatin (a nicely wicked portrayal by Ray Stewart) and a lethal robot ship that’s been assigned to find Peter at any cost.

Writer/director Howard R. Cohen keeps the entertaining story moving along at a swift pace, maintains an engaging good-natured tone throughout, stages the rousing action set pieces with gusto, and further spruces things up with amusing touches of zany humor. Moreover, it’s acted with zest by an able and enthusiastic cast, with especially sturdy contributions from Patsy Pease as the scrappy Amanda, Thom Christopher as psychic alien Flightplan, Luca Bercovici as the rowdy Ace, and Drew Snyder as the amiable Aldebarian. Dick Miller pops up in a funny bit role as the hologram for fast-talking salesman Crazy Mel. The sweet relationship between Hawk and Peter gives this picture some real heart and warmth. In addition, the recycled sets from previous Roger Corman films and copious special effects footage from “Battle Beyond the Stars” — along with James Horner’s stirring and spirited score from same! — add to this movie’s irresistibly cheap’n’cheerful ramshackle appeal. An immensely enjoyable Grade B outing.